Artist Interviews 2024

Guillermo Bert  
By Julia Siedenburg

Guillermo Bert is truly an indescribable multimedia artist. His work is not only very moving but also immensely eye opening. Every piece that is created carries an important message for the people. From social to political issues to topics discussing the health of Mother Earth - his visual mediums speak volumes. His sculpture series “The Warriors” portrays just one of the many inhumane situations that occur in this country that is getting nearly as much coverage as it should. Guillermo is not afraid to make us think about the uncomfortable truths that so many people try to ignore, or better forget.

The native Chilean has showcased his work at many important Art Fairs and Museums across the country, including the Los Angeles Art Fair. There he was one of this year’s chosen artists to exhibit his work with the DIVERSEartLA initiative. Mostly driven by his cultural background and upbringing, everything he creates comes from the heart which is why it is so easy to connect with everything he does.

I am beyond happy that we can introduce you to his amazing artist and invite you to learn more about his world. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did, dear reader:

What does art mean to you?

I grew up in Chile, Latin America, where the meaning of art is deeply socially driven. For me, art carries a significant responsibility to engage with relevant issues that affect society as a whole. This guiding principle has always informed my artistic practice. While I prioritize addressing relevant issues, I also highly value creativity, the exploration of new ideas, and the integration of emerging technologies into my work. My aim is to convey messages that are both beautiful and innovative, yet grounded in substantial content.  

In your opinion, what are the most important characteristics of an artist?

In my opinion, creativity stands out as the foremost characteristic of an artist. It's essential to introduce in new visuality, and express concepts in innovative ways, fostering an organic connection between form and content.  

What experience or influences made you the artist you are today?

Growing up and receiving my education in Chile before coming to the United States has profoundly shaped my artistic identity. The bicultural perspective I gained from this upbringing has been instrumental in shaping my vision as an artist. Over the course of 40 years in the US, I've developed a deep understanding of both cultures on a visceral level. This hybrid capability enables me to serve as a bridge between these two cultures, facilitating the extension of the concept of community. It's why I'm particularly drawn to the process of cross-pollination, which I believe is crucial not only in agriculture but also within cultural exchange.  

Your own experience of immigrating to a new country inspired you to focus on portraying the courageous people who take on the dangerous journey of migrating through desert land to find a better life in the United States. In detail, how did you develop the idea to create multi-media artworks and sculptures for your “Journey” series and what was the overall work process like?

My personal experience of immigrating to a new country greatly influenced my decision to focus on depicting the courageous individuals who embark on the perilous journey of migrating through desert lands in search of a better life in the United States. The concept for my 'Journey' series emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic when I became acutely aware of the stark contrast between my own protected bubble and the essential work being carried out by blue-collar workers in the fields and streets. I realized that many people were unaware of the immense contribution made by these frontline workers to our way of life.

The idea to create multimedia artworks and sculptures for the 'Journey' series was inspired by a moment of reflection on the unseen labor of these individuals. Drawing a parallel to the discovery of the Chinese Terracotta warriors, who lay buried for centuries before being unearthed, I envisioned excavating the stories of these immigrants from obscurity. Much like the sudden visibility of the Terracotta warriors, I sought to bring attention to the vital work performed by these immigrants through my art.

The overall work process involved extensive research into the experiences of immigrants, as well as the development of multimedia techniques to effectively convey their stories. From conceptualization to execution, each piece in the series was crafted with the intention of honoring the resilience and contributions of these individuals while fostering greater awareness and appreciation for their sacrifices.  

You were born and raised in Santiago, Chile. Please share a bit about your childhood and upbringing with us.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Santiago, Chile, in a neighborhood called La Reina. My childhood was filled with happiness and fond memories. We lived in a spacious house with a large backyard where we had a pet dog. Growing up alongside my four brothers and sisters, I recall a sense of joy and security. While specific details may have faded with time, the overall impression remains that of a happy and carefree upbringing.

Do you feel that your birthplace and childhood have shaped the type of artist you are?

Absolutely, one's birthplace and childhood experiences undeniably shape the type of artist they become. My own retrospective at the Nevada Museum of Art, titled 'The Journey,' reflects this truth. It encapsulates not only my personal journey but also my interactions with other immigrant communities and my evolving role within American culture. My experiences form the foundation of my artistic expression and contribute to the unique perspective I bring to my work.  

In connection to your powerful “Journey” series, you have released a 208–page hardcover book. Please tell us why it was important for you to create this book and how your overall experiences crafting it.

The creation of the 208-page hardcover book to accompany my 'Journey' series was a deeply meaningful endeavor. This retrospective spanning fifteen years of my work, showcased at the Nevada Museum of Art, served as the foundation for the book. I am immensely grateful to Vivian Zavataro, the guest curator, and Anne Wolf, the chief curator of the museum, whose instrumental roles in shaping the retrospective laid the groundwork for the book.

Crafting the book was a labor of love, requiring hundreds of hours of development. It features four fully bilingual in English and Spanish essays. With hundreds of photographs, the book meticulously captures the flow of ideas across the various series presented in the exhibition. Despite the eclectic nature of the exhibition, the book successfully navigates seamless transitions between different media, mirroring the cohesive design of the exhibition space tailored specifically for this purpose.

The exhibition itself, which ran for six months, garnered significant participation from numerous individuals. Although the physical exhibition has concluded, the enduring legacy of the book ensures that the documentation of this transformative journey will last indefinitely. I take immense pride in the beauty and permanence of this book, which stands as a testament to the collaborative effort and creative vision that brought it to fruition.

You were once an art director for the Los Angeles Times and a teacher at the Pasadena Art Center School of Design in Southern California. Can you briefly describe how those opportunities came about and what you enjoyed the most while working at each?

My transition from freelancing to becoming an Art Director at the Los Angeles Times was a result of ten years of dedicated work in developing my artistic career. The opportunity at the Los Angeles Times, particularly in the Opinion section, allowed me to immerse myself in visually-rich content. Beyond page layouts and design, I had the privilege of creating graphics and political illustrations, as well as collaborating with renowned illustrators from across the nation. The fast-paced, deadline-driven environment fostered discipline and honed my ability to extract ideas from editorial content swiftly and skillfully, providing invaluable training as an artist.

Teaching at the Art Center School of Design was a profoundly rewarding experience. Working with students and guiding them to enhance their conceptual abilities was immensely fulfilling. I encouraged an open-minded approach to utilizing a variety of techniques to better represent their ideas. Additionally, I had the opportunity to expand my own skills by taking technology classes, including laser and prototyping techniques, and mastering the latest graphic software. This diverse skill set ultimately paved the way for my current business ventures, where I specialize in fabrication and laser designs, completing a full circle of growth and development in my career.  

This February, your work will be exhibited at the LA Art Show, one of the country's most International contemporary Art Shows.  Do you enjoy displaying your work at showcases like these where you can connect with viewers in person or do you feel more comfortable in a “man behind the curtain” type role?

I thoroughly enjoy displaying my work at showcases like the LA Art Show, where I have the opportunity to connect with viewers face-to-face. Engaging with people, discussing my art, and sharing ideas is exhilarating for me. I find it incredibly rewarding to hear how my work resonates with individuals from various backgrounds, allowing us to connect on a human level. I am eagerly anticipating the upcoming event, where I will be exhibiting as part of DIVERSEartLA, curated by Marisa Caichiolo. It's an honor to be in the company of seven other international museums, and I am looking forward to the experience.  

What are your plans for the future?

I'm constantly fueled by new ideas and upcoming exhibitions, and I have a busy schedule ahead. I'm eagerly looking forward to diving into my next series, always seeking fresh perspectives and innovative ways to represent my concepts.

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